While writing the article to which Professors Mitchell and Bielby have published responses, I was mindful of the many ways in which the article could be misinterpreted. In taking issue with the assumption that legal controls work in a direct, linear manner to deter crimination, I thought I might be misunderstood to say that people are not responsive to incentives. In worrying about how legal sanctions exert external pressure that may crowd out the inclination of well-intentioned people to self-monitor for bias, I feared that the article would be read mistakenly to oppose strong and appropriate legal rules against discrimination. In arguing that we should take people’s good intentions not to discriminate as a useful starting point for better workplace policies, rather than as the cynical exhibition of people’s self-delusion, I anticipated that the article would be dismissed as a fanciful and naïve denial of the existence of race and gender bias. In arguing that well-intentioned people can overcome their natural tendencies to discriminate, I was concerned about appearing to claim that good intentions are sufficient to end discrimination.
In the case of the responses by Professor Mitchell and Professor Bielby, these fears were unwarranted.
Article discussed: Katharine T. Bartlett, Making Good on Good Intentions: The Critical Role of Motivation in Reducing Implicit Workplace Discrimination, 95 Va. L. Rev. 1893 (2009)
Katharine T. Bartlett, Reply: Good Intentions Matter, 96 Virginia Law Review 35-39 (2010)
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Discrimination in employment, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Discrimination, Civil rights